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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

IndieSeen Favorite: Kasi Lemmons

Kasi Lemmons is one of the most underrated African-American female indie film directors to date. She started out her career living as a New Yorker by attending NYU film school. She also studied on the West coast at UCLA. She came back here to pursue her acting career at 18 and started in a small role in the pivotal Spike Lee film School Daze. She had grown an interest in making documentaries, and decided to attend film school at The New School for Social Research in NY.

She also developed a skill for writing and continued to do so, while balancing an acting career. She starred in supporting roles such as Silence Of The Lambs, Candyman, Hard Target, and Fear Of A Black Hat.

She decided to move on to bigger and better things, rather playing small bit roles in film, by getting behind the camera. She continued to finish a screenplay she had been working on while in film school called Eve's Bayou. Her husband, Vonde Curtis-Hall, starred in a short film directed by Kasi which was an adaptation from her feature length screenplay. The short film called Dr. Hugo, was pitched to studios, so that Kasi can convince Hollywood producers that she can direct a feature length film.

She managed to convince producers and in 1997 she directed Eve's Bayou. The film was the highest grossing independent film of that year. Quite remarkable for a first time director. She won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature of that year. The film starred Samuel L. Jackson and Lynn Whitfield. Jackson was also a co-producer for the film. She teamed up again with Samuel in Caveman's Valentine where he plays a schizophrenic.

According to IMDB, Lemmons has just completed the film Talk To Me based on an ex-con who becomes a popular talk show host and community activist in the 1960's. The film stars great talents such as Don Cheadle and Martin Sheen.

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